Unit Plan: Strategies for Active Reading

I love using picture books to model the active reading strategies before turning students loose on whatever they are reading to practice the strategies. For each of the books below (or any that you choose to model), read aloud, stop, and explain your thinking as you go through the book. Show students how you make meaning from text.

Picture Books for Each Comprehension Strategy

These are a few of my favorites, but you could also use short magazine articles or any other interesting text to model each comprehension strategy.

A Boy Called Slow
by Joseph Bruchac

A beautiful book that tells of a young Native American growing into manhood and a new name, Sitting Bull.

Classroom Tip: Use to model synthesizing

Bull Run
by Paul Fleischman

This informational book gives facts of the Civil War battles in a way accessible to students.

Classroom Tip: Use to model determining importance

Fly Away Home
by Eve Bunting

Bunting tells the story of a homeless young boy and his father who try to stay invisible while living at the airport. This is a wonderful book about nurturing hope in the face of hard times.

Classroom Tip: Use to model inference

The House on Maple Street
by Bonnie Pryor

A book that explores how our landscape and way of life have changed over the years.

Classroom Tip: Use to model visualization

The Lotus Seed
by Sherry Garland

This book shows the virtue of truth as a child attempts to grow a special seed.

Classroom Tip: Use to model asking questions

Thank You, Mr. Falkner
by Patricia Polacco

My favorite picture book, this reminds us what teaching is all about as Polacco describes a struggling reader and a special teacher that intervenes.

Classroom Tip: Use to model making connections

Professional Reading

Mosaic of Thought
by Susan Zimmermann and Ellin Oliver Keene

This classic professional development resource is a must-read if you are not familiar with the Reading Strategies.

Classroom Tip: I recommend this book to many teachers as an overview of reading strategies for comprehension.

Improving Comprehension With Think-Aloud Strategies
by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

A great resource for teachers of all ages, this book reminds us to allow our students to see what expert readers do to comprehend text.

Classroom Tip: Look for ways to incorporate think-alouds every time you read to your students.

I Read It, But I Don't Get It
by Cris Tovani

In my opinion, this book should be required reading in every teacher preparation program and for each teacher already in the field!

Classroom Tip: I keep this book handy to remind myself to keep my students always aware of their comprehension and always practicing the strategies that good readers use.